United Public School District serves the towns Des Lacs and Burlington, which have seen steady growth as desirable living areas for many working in and around Minot, the Minot Air Force Base and the Bakken Region oil fields. As a result, student census numbers climbed 18% from 2008 to 2017, a trend the District deemed likely to continue.
This rise in student population pushed school facilities beyond their limits, and brought to light deficiencies at both campuses. A Capital Maintenance Plan done by Consolidated helped determine which buildings and systems were worth renovating and those needing replacement. We also conducted community listening sessions to better understand the community’s vision for their schools.
The District ultimately decided to relocate the 7th and 8th grades from Burlington to Des Lacs, creating a “school within a school” to junior high students transition more effectively to high school, and give them access to Art, Vocational-Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS), Foreign Language, and Business classes. At Des Lacs, a new gym, secure entry, kitchen/commons, and administrative office spaces were also required. The Burlington facility would be renovated to accommodate PreK and Kindergarten rooms, restrooms, and a secure entrance.
The initial referendum, which called for $15.4 million in investments, fell just 4% short of passage. Consolidated and the Architect used value engineering to craft a new plan that met the District’s needs without eliminating any classrooms or educational facilities. This ultimately reduced project costs 23%, and the new $11.9 million referendum passed easily.
Since voters ultimately approved much less funding than the District originally wanted, this served as a real call to action for the Consolidated team, and led us to scrutinize every aspect of the project in order to get the District the absolute most for their money. During the pre-construction phase, Consolidated presented the Owner with 109 more value engineering ideas, and the Owner accepted options totaling more than $1.26 million in savings—without sacrificing any classroom space or square footage.
This project spanned complicated demolition, re-purposing of existing facilities, additions, and new construction, much more than could be done in the traditional summer construction season preferred by schools. Much of the site work, demolition, renovations, and new construction was to be done while the school was occupied. As a result, Consolidated crafted a meticulous 4-Phase approach to the project, allowing much of the work to be done while school was in session, while putting paramount importance on the safety of students, staff, and visitors:
- Phase 1: New construction of kitchen/commons, office spaces, entry way, and fire protection system: to be complete by Christmas, 2018. Relocating the kitchen/commons enable Phase 3 renovations to be completed with the junior high classroom addition was completing.
- Phase 2: New construction of gymnasium and junior high classroom addition: to be complete by Easter, 2019.
- Phase 3: Remodeling of old kitchen/commons area to accommodate a portion of the new junior high school: to be complete by Easter, 2019. Completion of Phases 1, 2, and 3 enabled the junior high students to move from Burlington to Des Lacs in April 2019, allowing the extensive renovations at Burlington Elementary School to begin.
- Phase 4: Remodeling of existing science classrooms: to begin at the end of 2018 school year and complete by the start of 2019 school year. Repurposing and conversion of the former junior high wing at Burlington to accommodate pre-school and Kindergarten spaces (including building bathrooms and sinks with water fountains, as required by current code) and administrative offices: to be complete by the start of the 2019 school year.
Exceptional measures were taken to ensure the safety of everyone involved with this project, resulting in zero recordable worker accidents or injuries, and no OSHA violations.
In the last five years, Consolidated Construction has been contracted with 30 different North Dakota Public School Districts in various stages of planning, design, and construction. The United School District project is another example of how we are committed to working with these communities to identify needs and build cost-effective educational solutions that bring modern amenities and 21st Century learning to rural schools.